Joe Were is a super-talented Kenyan photographer and musician. He also happens to be a person with infinite amounts of good vibes and supportive wisdom to share with people around him.
In Nairobi, Joe is often referred to as the king of street portraits and people stop him in the streets to ask him to shoot them and put them on his Instagram (where you will also find some magic shots of the streets of Nairobi). That’s how good it feels to be photographed by Joe Were. What his special trick is? I think it is his personality. In Joe’s own words: “I shoot what I see”. The people in Joe’s straight-forward photos are real and their personalities glow.
Currently you can follow Joe’s daily portrait updates on his Instagram being part of an international photography project, #GEOGRAPHYOFYOUTH. He has been selected to be one of a small handful of photographers from all around the world to contribute with his portraits to this interactive participatory public art project. The geography of Youth will explore the Millenial Generation, those born between 1980 and 1995. Today is the first day and in total 30 days with one portrait and story per day will lead up to a photographic exhibition in New York.
The first person that Joe introduced today is 29-year old Moses Odumbe, originally from Kisumu but now living in Nairobi and pursuing a diploma in Business Management. One of the questions that each person portrayed in the project is asked is when they became an adult. Moses answers in 2002 when he and his siblings lost both parents and had to take care of themselves. I invite you to read the full story and see how very well they did that. There is a lot of future in Moses’ words and eyes.
I asked Joe why he loves taking portraits. No actually, I asked Joe why he likes to take portraits, loves is his choice of word and he means it. He answered, “I love taking portraits because it communicates and expresses people in a way sometimes that words can’t. It’s an observer’s view into their personality, which is beautiful.” Because I know Joe I know what that observer view is made of, I think that’s why people feel he has captured their personality so well.
Joe’s dream project is to do an African portrait adventure, a long road trip to different places to get to know people on the way and show them in their environment. I am sure this would be amazing to see so I keep my fingers crossed that this dream project turns into a plan soon. Road trips are kind of Joe’s thing and you can see some very cool photos from the trip he did with Onetouch Media, a group of photographers, cinematographers, writers and adventure travelers dedicated to showcasing the beauty of Africa, here on their Instagram.
I also asked Joe a question that I will ask every person I interview for this blog, “What do you wish the world knew about Kenya?“. Joe’s answer was:
I wish the world would know that Kenya is quite diverse…. in culture,
in nationalities living here. That it’s an international hub for trade,
technology research and that it’s beautiful and safe.
For more information about Joe please check his website. And why not listen to the band that he is a member of, Just A Band, and their amazing “Probably for Lovers”, video here and Spotify here. That should make your day anyday.